Kalām cosmological argument
The Kalām cosmological argument is a variation of the cosmological argument that argues for the existence of a first cause for the universe, and the existence of God. Its origins can be traced to medieval Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers, but most directly to Islamic theologians of the Kalām tradition. Its historic proponents include John Philoponus, Al-Kindi, Saadia Gaon, Al-Ghazali, and St. Bonaventure. William Lane Craig revived interest in the Kalām cosmological argument with his 1979 publication of a book of the same name.
The argument postulates that something caused the Universe to begin to exist, and this first cause must be God.
The cosmological argument was first introduced by Aristotle and later refined by Al-Kindi, Al-Ghazali (The Incoherence of the Philosophers), and Ibn Rushd (Averroes). In Western Europe, it was adopted by the Christian theologian Bonaventure (See Craig, 1979, p 18). Another form of this argument is based on the concept of a prime-mover, which was also propounded by Averroes. His premise was that every motion must be caused by another motion, and the earlier motion must in turn be a result of another motion and so on. He argued that there must be an initial prime-mover, a mover that could cause motion without any other mover. One of the earliest formations of the Kalām argument comes from Al-Kindi, who wrote, "Every being which begins has a cause for its beginning; now the world is a being which begins; therefore, it possesses a cause for its beginning."
Two kinds of Islamic perspectives may be considered with regard to the cosmological argument. A positive Aristotelian response strongly supporting the argument and a negative response which is quite critical of it. Among the Aristotelian thinkers are Al-Kindi, and Averroes. In contrast Al-Ghazali and Muhammad Iqbal may be seen as being in opposition to this sort of an argument.
Al-Kindi is one of the many major and first Islamic philosophers who attempt to introduce an argument for the existence of God based upon purely empirical premises. In fact, his chief contribution is the cosmological argument (dalil al-huduth) for the existence of God, in his On First Philosophy.
Al-Ghazzali was unconvinced by the first-cause arguments of Kindi. In response to them he writes: "According to the hypothesis under consideration, it has been established that all the beings in the world have a cause. Now, let the cause itself have a cause, and the cause of the cause have yet another cause, and so on ad infinitum. It does not behove you to say that an infinite regress of causes is impossible."
Al-Kindi's argument has been taken up by some contemporary Western philosophers and dubbed the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Among its chief proponents today is William Lane Craig.
The Kalām argument is applied by the spiritist doctrine as the main argument for the existence of God.
- Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence;
- The universe has a beginning of its existence;
- The universe has a cause of its existence.
- Argument based on the impossibility of an actual infinite
- An actual infinite cannot exist.
- An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.
- Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.
- Argument based on the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite by successive addition
- A collection formed by successive addition cannot be an actual infinite.
- The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition.
- Therefore, the temporal series of past events cannot be actually infinite.
The argument has seen some revival within Christian apologetics and among some philosophers, but has been criticized by such philosophers as J. L. Mackie, Graham Oppy, and Quentin Smith, and physicists Paul Davies, Lawrence Krauss and Victor Stenger.
William Lane Craig argues that the first premise is strongly supported by intuition and experience. He asserts that it is "intuitively obvious", based on the "metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing". Additionally, Craig argues the first premise is affirmed by interaction with the physical world; for if it were false, it would be impossible to explain why things do not still randomly pop into existence without a cause.
In addition work undertaken by John Wheeler and Richard Feynman in the Wheeler–Feynman absorber theory suggested that causes need not result in events in a chronological and linear fashion and this idea has been demonstrated mathematically by the delayed choice quantum eraser without coincidence counting. However no demonstration in experimentation has been shown thus far.
John G. Cramer is currently carrying out experiments at the Large Hadron Collider into retrocausality, if demonstrated successfully apart from adding much to both theories would also remove Craigs first premise entirely and remove the Kalām cosmological arguments logical basis entirely.
Craig disagrees with physicists on the definition of "uncaused", and has said that particles which appear due to these effects are not really uncaused, but rather are produced from a quantum vacuum which contains energy to permit for the spontaneous existence of matter.
Craig asserts that it is logically impossible for the number of past events to be infinite, and therefore the universe must have a definite beginning to its existence. From the position of Cosmology, Craig cites the Big Bang theory as evidence for the second premise. He argues in favor of the Big Bang being interpreted as the temporal beginning of the universe, in defiance of the models which suggest differently, such as the Cyclic model, vacuum fluctuation models, and the Hartle–Hawking state model.
Ghazali thought that it is at least theoretically possible for there to be an infinite regress, and that there is nothing that necessitates a first-cause simply by pure deductive reason. He thus disputes one of the essential premises of the first-cause argument. Muhammad Iqbal also rejects the argument, stating: "a finite effect can give only a finite cause, or at most an infinite series of such causes. To finish the series at a certain point, and to elevate one member of the series to the dignity of an un-caused first cause, is to set at naught the very law of causation on which the whole argument proceeds."
Craig's argument concludes, through a process of elimination known more formally as modus tollens, that the cause of the universe must be a personal, uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, enormously powerful, and enormously intelligent being, which Craig defines as God.
According to Craig, another objection comes from the B-theory of time. On a B-theory of time, the universe does not come into being, it just exists tenselessly as a four-dimensional space-time block, and so the Kalām cosmological argument is predicated upon the A-Theory of time.
More recently it was used by Muslim apologist Hamza Andreas Tzortzis in his debate with Lawrence Krauss. Lawrence Krauss argued to Tzortzis that this argument was flawed by showing him that infinity can exist and that Tzortzis's argument can be construed as an argument from ignorance. Tzortzis responded by observing that Krauss could not show him an actual infinite and was only able to explain to him a theoretical/mathematical infinite.
Fellow apologist Calum Miller has also voiced a variety of concerns regarding the argument, which William Lane Craig has responded to.
- Craig 1994: 80
- Herbert A, Davidson, “John Philoponus as a Source of Medieval Islamic and Jewish Proofs of Creation”, Journal of the American Oriental Society 89 (1969), pp. 357–391.
- Al-Kindi, On First Philosophy, with an Introduction and Commentary by Alfred L. Ivry (Albany, N. Y.: State University of New York Press, 1974), pp. 67–75
- Saadia Gaon, The Book of Beliefs and Opinions, trans. Samuel Rosenblatt (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1948), pp. 41–44
- al Ghazali, Kitab al lqtisad, with a foreword by Î. A. Çubukçu and H. Atay (Ankara: University of Ankara Press, 1962), pp. 15–16.
- Francis J. Kovach, 'The Question of the Eternity of the World in St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas – A Critical Analysis', Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 5 (1974), pp. 141–172.
- Smith, Quentin (2007). "Kalam Cosmological Arguments for Atheism". In Martin, Michael. The Cambridge companion to atheism. Cambridge University Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-521-84270-9.
- Craig, William Lane; The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2000); ISBN 978-1-57910-438-2
- Averroes, Ibn Rushd, The Incoherence of the Incoherence (Tahafut al-Tahafut) London:Luzac, 1954, pp. 58
- Iqbal, Muhammad The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam Lahore:Institute of Islamic Culture, 1986
- Nasr, trans. Seyyed Hossein, An introduction to Islamic cosmological doctrines. Albany : State University of New York Press, 1993 pp. 168
- Al-Ghazzali, Tahafut Al-Falasifah (The Incoherence of Philosophers), translated by Sabih Ahmad Kamali. Lahore: Pakistan Philosophical Congress, 1963 pp. 90–91
- Ramey, B. The Kalam Cosmological Argument: A Summary. 1998 (http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/billramey/kalam.html)
- Nasr, trans. Seyyed Hossein, An introduction to Islamic cosmological doctrines. Albany : State University of New York Press, 1993
- Craig 1994: 116
- Reichenbach 2008: 4.1
- Craig 2007
- Craig 1994: 92
- Craig 1994: 100–116
- Iqbal, Muhammad The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam Lahore: Institute of Islamic Culture, 1986
- Craig 1996
- Craig, Moreland 2009: 183–184
- Craig, William Lane (1994). Reasonable Faith. Wheaton: Moody Press. ISBN 0-89107-764-2.
- Craig, William Lane (2000). The Kalam Cosmological Argument. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers. ISBN 1-57910-438-X.
- Craig, William Lane (2008). Reasonable Faith. Wheaton: Crossway Books. ISBN 978-1-4335-0115-9.
- Craig, William Lane; Moreland, J. P. (2009). The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Oxford: John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-1-4051-7657-6.
- Craig, William Lane (2007). "Causal Premiss [sic] of the Kalam Argument". Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig: Q&A. Reasonable Faith. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
- Craig, William Lane (1996). "Initial Arguments: A Defense of the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God". The Craig–Smith Debate: Does God Exist?. Leadership University. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- Reichenbach, Bruce (2008). "Cosmological Argument: 4.1 The Causal Principle and Quantum Physics". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
- Russell, Bertrand (1957). Edwards, Paul, ed. Why I Am Not A Christian. New York: Simon and Schuster.
- Mackie, J. L. (1982). The Miracle of Theism. Oxford: Clarendon. ISBN 0-19-824682-X.
- Craig, William Lane; Smith, Quentin (1993). Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology. Oxford: Clarendon. ISBN 0-19-826348-1.
- Oppy, Graham (1995). "Reply To Professor Craig". The Secular Web Library. The Secular Web. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- Barker, Dan (1999). "Cosmological Kalamity". The Secular Web Library. The Secular Web. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- "The Big Debates: Islam or Atheism - Which Makes More Sense? Lawrence Krauss & Hamza Tzortzis". 2013.
- Craig, William Lane (1979). The Kalam Cosmological Argument (1st ed.). London: McMillan ISBN 0-06-491308-2
- Rüdiger Vaas. Time before time Time before Time: How to Avoid the Antinomy of the Beginning and Eternity of the World.
- J.P. Moreland. Scaling the Secular City: A Defence of Christianity (1987) ISBN 0-8010-6222-5. Chapter 1: "The Cosmological Argument".
- William Lane Craig. A Swift and Simple Refutation of the Kalam Cosmological Argument? (1999) 
- Paul Copan and William Lane Craig. Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration (2004) Chapters 6–8.
- Derrick Abdul-Hakim. God's Paradox: A Comment on William Lane Craig's Cosmological Argument (2006) Presented at San Jose State University Philosophy Conference
- Mark Nowacki. The Kalam Cosmological Argument For God (2007) ISBN 1-59102-473-0
- Digital Bits Skeptic. A critical examination of the Kalam Cosmological Argument
- A Kalam Cosmological Argument Bibliography Lists dozens of articles relating to the argument, with links to most of them.